South Sudan Establishes
Diplomatic Relations with Israel
(July 28, 2011)
Less than two weeks after officially declaring its independence, South Sudan will formalize its diplomatic relations with Israel.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced the establishment of ties between the two countries, issuing a statement saying “the cooperation between the two countries will be based on solid foundations, relations of equality and mutual respect.” A parallel announcement was made in Juba, South Sudan's new capital, where the president of the new country, Salva Kiir, met with Jacques Revach, head of the Foreign Ministry’s Africa division, and Dan Shacham, Israel’s nonresident ambassador to a number of African countries.
Just three days after South Sudan declared independence on July 9, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Kiir and said Israel would be happy to help the fledgling country in “any way.” Israel recognized the new country on July 10.
A number of revelers in Juba celebrating independence waved Israeli flags, a gesture interpreted by some as a sign of gratitude to Israel for support during years of struggle against the north. About 8,000 Sudanese migrants, many of them from South Sudan, are believed to be in Israel. One of the first topics of discussion between the two countries is likely to be the repatriation of many of these refuge-seekers.
In August 2011, President Kiir announced that he would maintain South Sudan's relations with Israel despite pressure from Arab countries.
Sources: Jerusalem Post; Christian Science Monitor; Jerusalem Post